Monday, July 21, 2008

Boulder Blog

I've often passed this boulder, curious about its place in the landscape, but until Saturday I've never looked at why it's there. Turns out it commemorates the Civil War Battle of Winceby, when Parliamentary troops routed a Royalist force on their way to relieve the besieged garrison at nearby Bolingbroke Castle.

English Heritage has a pretty comprehensive write-up of the battle, complete with eye witness accounts. Apparently the two sides were evenly matched - a couple of thousand dragoons and cavalry each. It must have been a hastily arranged affair, for neither infantry had caught up with the mounted advances. Oliver Cromwell himself led the first charge, putting the Royalists into disarray and forcing a retreat that soon turned into a terrible bloodbath. In only half an hour 200 were dead and another 200 captured in what has been known ever since as Slash Hollow.

Well, of course, the Fixer in me couldn't help but work out where it all went wrong. And being on the ground at the battlefield itself makes it painfully obvious. The Earl of Manchester's Roundheads were waiting on the high-ground at the top of the picture - indeed he would probably have concealed his forces just behind the ridge. The Cavaliers' front ranged from just out of shot on the left, down to a boggy hollow on their right (south-west). So they were already vulnerable to a downhill charge - which immediately befell them - and were unable to make a cohesive counter-attack because the lie of the terrain was against almost all of their line. They were stuffed before they started because their commander, Sir William Widdrington, had ceded tactical advantage even before the fight had begun. He engaged at a time when his situation was inferior to the enemy's and from that moment was fighting, literally, an uphill battle. He had options. He could have stayed on higher ground until his infantry caught up, and/or manouvered north-east to put himself on at least equal topographical footing, or simply outflanked the Roundheads by marching to Bolingbroke on a more westerly route. Instead, he seems to have had a rush of blood which, as a consequence, led to the loss of all Lincolnshire for the Crown.

All this is pretty empty (pointless) speculation, coming as it does some 365 years after the event. My only excuse for blogging it is to draw the most tenuous of connections between then and now, because for the last little while I've been buried in things that have taken my mind away from the current affairs that seem to be arousing the nation's disquiet. And the fact is, that it does about as much good concerning myself about most of the newspaper headlines as it does over whether history might have been changed had Sir William not blundered. It's not that I don't care about the bad news - just that I'm unaware of it unless I read about it - a variation of the old 'tree falling in a lonely forest' question. The sense of being led into certain disaster by clueless modern-day Widdringtons like Brown, Balls, Milliband and Harman doesn't help either. The task of leadership is beyond them. They are doomed at the outset.

What point is there in enraging myself over the world's ills, when I can do so little to influence them? Smugly probably, I can claim to have dragged myself far enough up the greasy pole to be immune from much of what gets complained about. So why concern myself with matters that barely touch me? Why propose solutions that will never be taken up by those with the power? Public duty?

When I started this blog, I thought it would amuse me to put a personal slant on some of the things peculiar to living in this area. Somehow, I've been drawn away from the original idea. I need to re-think and get back to the trivia - here or elsewhere.


Glamourpuss said...

I aspire to a commemorative boulder...


Anonymous said...

Good to see you back. Trivia or heavy stuff, the personal slant is interesting. I like the local too, as I grew up not a million miles away.


All Shook Up said...

I shall see to it, Puss. You'll get two... perfectly formed.

Thanks Anne Onymous, now you've got me wondering who you are and where you're from!

Glamourpuss said...

Cheeky boy.